Florida’s claw-harvesting season is just over a week old, and some local seafood markets and restaurants are stocked with fresh, meaty stone crabs.
Menippe mercenaria is a species native to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Renowned for their distinctive claws, these crabs play a pivotal role in our coastal ecosystem and have carved a niche in the culinary world.
Stone Crab Season is eagerly awaited mid-October to May. While commercial fishermen target stone crabs to cater to ever-growing market demands, leisure enthusiasts gear up with nets and traps, eager to bag these delectable catches themselves. Sustainability, however, remains paramount.
With the aim of preserving the stone crab population, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) enforces several regulations. Key guidelines include:
So what are the Requirements for Recreational Traps?
Recreational fishers age 16 and older (including those normally exempt from needing a license) are required to complete an online, no-cost recreational stone and/or blue crab trap registration before using stone or blue crab traps. To register, visit GoOut-doorsFlorida.com Note: Harvesters under 16 are not required to register but still must mark their traps with their name and address.
In Florida, the state waters harvest season just opened on Oct. 15 and close on May 2.
Minimum Size Limit: 2 7/8 inches from the inside elbow to the thumb claw; only claws may be harvested.
Daily Bag Limit: 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
Harvester’s name, address, and unique recreational trap registration number must be perma-nently affixed to each trap and legible.
The buoy must be no smaller than 6 inches and must be marked with a legible “R” that is at least 2 inches tall. Buoys are not required if trap is fished from a dock.
Traps must be pulled only during daylight hours.
Traps must not be placed in navigational channels of the Intracoastal waterways, or in navigational channels maintained and marked by any county, municipal, state or federal governmental agency.
Trapping Crabs recreationally is hard but rewarding work. BUT… If you have no desire to get them for yourself, then remember that beyond their culinary appeal, Stone Crab Season signifies a cultural celebration. Coastal communities come alive with stone crab festivals and events, drawing locals and tourists to partake in this seafood spectacle.
On FMB, Peter Ennis, a partner at Snug Harbor Restaurant, welcomes the return of the clawed culinary delights. “Seafood aficionados spur the local economy. Our stone crabs will be here soon for all to enjoy. We serve them with our tangy mustard sauce to elevate the edible experience.”
Ennis also reminds us that stone crabs pack a nutritional punch. “The meat is a great source of protein, low in fat, and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. They are really a health-conscious choice.”
So if your planning on a day at the beach.. Eat like the locals do ..... stop into Snug Harbor Restaurant for stone crabs on Old San Carlos Blvd, Fort Myers Beach. Tell them Bobby and Rich sent you!
Rich Luthmann and Bobby Mimmo